The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s opening race of the Prosecco DOC Catalunya Round at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was a dramatic affair as Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed his fourth consecutive win in Barcelona to extend his Championship lead in Race 1, while there was a fierce battle for second with several riders at different points. The race was run over a 17-lap distance following a red flag on Lap 4 of the initial race, with Bautista winning the shortened race by 8.8 seconds.
BAUTISTA REIGNS SUPREME: Bautista takes Race 1 victory
The race was red flagged on Lap 4 of 20 after an incident on the exit of Turn 11 and the entrance of Turn 12 involving Eric Granado (PETRONAS MIE Racing HONDA Team). The Brazilian rider was conscious and taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash. Granado was declared unfit following the crash with concussion and he was transported to hospital for further assessments. The riders took to the grid for the restarted race based on their positions at the last completed time-keeping point for each rider, meaning Bautista took the front row ahead of teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).
The new race was restarted over a 17-lap distance with Bautista able to once again stay ahead from the front while his rivals squabbled behind him. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) moved from fifth to third, and then ahead of Rinaldi into second, before the factory Ducati barged his way through at Turn 3. They were still side by side through Turn 10 and into Turn 11. The pair made contact with Rinaldi retiring from the race and Bassani continuing; the incident was investigated by the FIM WorldSBK Stewards. Bassani was given a Long Lap Penalty for his role in the incident which he took instantly on Lap 6, dropping him from second to fifth.
Bassani’s penalty promoted Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) into second and third place and the pair were battling it out for second place as Bautista pulled out a gap over Rea and Razgatlioglu. Razgatlioglu was consistently putting Rea under pressure but, despite the 2021 Champion looking to make a move into Turn 1, he made the move on the final lap at Turn 1 despite being massively out of shape in the braking zone.
Bautista’s victory gave him his 41st win for Ducati out of 82 races run for the Italian manufacturer, giving him a 50%-win rate for Ducati. It’s his fourth consecutive win in Barcelona as he took his 67th podium in WorldSBK. Rea has edged closer to a milestone as he now has 249 WorldSBK podiums to his name while Razgatlioglu now has 91 podiums and Yamaha are edging closer to 400 podiums: they now have 397 to their name.
FIERCE FIGHT FOR FOURTH: an incredible run continues…
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) converted two incredible starts as the lights went out to take fourth place in Spain, continuing his run of top-five finishes in WorldSBK that extends from the end of the 2022 campaign. He fended off a surging Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) to hold on to fourth place, with Aegerter in fifth and fin ishing as the top Independent rider. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) made a late move on Bassani to take sixth place and demote Bassani to seventh after the Italian had a late-race drop-off in pace.
IN THE TOP TEN: fighting for strong positions
Eighth place went to Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) as he dropped off in the closing stages and he fended off Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) in ninth. Gerloff started the original race from ninth but lost out in the first few laps, before battling his way back up to ninth at the end of the race. Rookie Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) rounded out the top ten after a stunning late battle with Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) with the Australian in 11th. Heading into Turn 1 on the final lap, Petrucci looked to make a move before Gardner responded around the outside of Turn 2; however, Petrucci was able to finish ahead. Following the race, Petrucci was disqualified from Race 1 for not using his chest protector, promoting everyone behind him up one position.
COMPLETING POINTS: first points of the season for a rookie
German rider Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) took 11th spot, some seven seconds down on Gardner ahead of him, while Oettl fended off Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) in 12th. Ray’s 12th place means he claimed his first WorldSBK points of the campaign and his best WorldSBK result including his previous wildcard appearances. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) took 13th, just a second behind Ray, while Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing HONDA Team) took 14th. Ivo Miguel Lopes (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) scored a point on his WorldSBK debut with 15th place as he stood in for the injured Michael van der Mark, finishing ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in 16th place. Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) finished 17th and a lap down following a crash on Lap 1 of the restarted race. It happened at the same time as Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had a crash in front of him, with Redding retiring from the race.
HOUSEKEEPING: to note from WorldSBK Race 1
Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) was the first retirement from the race when the Czech rider had a Turn 4 crash on Lap 2 of the original race start, putting him out of the race and he was unable to re-join the restarted race. Konig was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash. He was diagnosed with a left ankle contusion and he will be reassessed ahead of Warm Up on Sunday morning.
Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing) retired from the race after he crashed out at Turn 10 on Lap 10, while Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had his second crash of the day as he lost the front at Turn 7 on Lap 11.
The top six following WorldSBK Race 1:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +8.864s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +8.927s
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +13.992s
5. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +14.206s
6. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +15.809s
Fastest lap: Alvaro Bautista, Ducati – 1’41.747s
- From WorldSBK.com